Apocalypse–again?

Well, the world is ending—again.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last five years or so, you already know that the world is scheduled to come to an end on December 21st. This is because the Mayan calendar comes to an end, which of course means the world must be ending as well.

We haven’t been told exactly how this apocalypse is going to occur, but many possibilities have been suggested—everything from a rogue planet (that somehow remains invisible to astronomers, even though it must be in our general neighborhood by now) to an interaction with the black hole at the center of our galaxy. [Note, for more detail on all of these, check out the Wikipedia page for the 2012 Phenomenon.]

However, there is one reason that I’m happy about this coming Mayan apocalypse. But to understand why, we’ve got to review a bit of recent apocalyptic history.

I’ve been around for quite a while, and have lived through my share of “end of the world” scares. I was a pastor during the 1988 “rapture” scare. That scare was motivated by a booklet written by Edgar Whisenant, a former NASA engineer: 88 Reasons why the Rapture will Occur in 1988.

Like thousands of pastors across America, I received a complimentary copy in my mailbox so that I could be sure my people were prepared.

I just rolled my eyes and told them not to worry. There wasn’t going to be a rapture on the predicted day, if for no other reason than that God wasn’t going to give this guy the satisfaction of being right.

The appointed day came.

Jesus didn’t.

A lot of Christians who jumped on that bandwagon were embarrassed. And, sadly, the faith of some of them was seriously shaken.

Then, of course, there was the Y2K scare.

All technology was set to collapse seconds after the new millennium began. The reason? Because of a disastrous lack of foresight among early programmers, computers only used two digits to indicate the current year. Thus, when the year 2000 came, computers around the world would become hopelessly confused because they wouldn’t know if 00 meant 2000, or 1900, or 1800, or whatever.

Although nobody was totally sure what to expect, many were convinced that this would result in the total collapse of our technological society and the end of civilization as we know it. Although the Y2K scare wasn’t exclusively a Christian phenomenon, a lot of Christians—apparently eager for anything resembling an apocalypse—panicked and started storing food, water, weapons, and so on.

I told my congregation not to worry.

Y2K came.

The disaster didn’t.

And, sadly, many Christians were—again—embarrassed.

And who can forget Harold Camping and the rapture that was supposed to come on May 21, 2011, but that was then rescheduled for October 21, 2011 when Jesus failed to appear? (or Christians failed to disappear?)

Billboards.

Bandwagons.

And a lot more embarrassed Christians.

Now the world’s latest rendezvous with the global grim reaper is set for December 21, 2012.

You know what really makes me happy about this?

For once, it’s not a bunch of nutty Christians running around and predicting the end of the world.

This time at least, we won’t need to feel embarrassed.

Because the world will not end on December 21st.

The sad thing is that it probably won’t be very long before some new “Christian” teacher comes on the scene and predicts a new date for the return of Christ. And once again, Christians will panic. And people will do crazy things in God’s name, like selling all their possessions and buying billboards to warn everyone about the coming apocalypse.

And then when it doesn’t happen on schedule,  Christians will be embarrassed. The faith of some will be so shaken that they will leave their profession behind.

Worse, yet, those who do not believe will have even greater reason to mock Christianity.

Make no mistake. The apocalypse will come someday.

But Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour (and by implication the month and year). He also said that it would come like a thief in the night.

The apocalypse will come.

But when it does, it’s going to be a big surprise.

In the meantime, contemplate the mind-boggling fact of Christ’s first coming, which we will celebrate–as scheduled–on December 25th.

Trust me. The world will still be here.

 


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